The Usual Corporate Lobbyists Pretend To Be Grassroots Groups Against Health-Care Reform

So they're rolling out the heavy guns, hiding behind yet another astroturf front. I wonder why they're always hiding behind these fake grassroots orga

So they're rolling out the heavy guns, hiding behind yet another astroturf front. I wonder why they're always hiding behind these fake grassroots organizations? Could it be they don't want people to know the kind of money the massive financial interests against health care reform are spending to stop it?

The new anti-health reform front group known as the Coalition to Protect Patients’ Rights, is being managed by the lobbying firm known as the DCI Group. After being contacted by ThinkProgress this afternoon about its sponsorship of CPPR’s press conference last week, DCI Group staffers acknowledged that they coordinate PR for the front group. Not be confused with Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, another front group opposing health reform, CPPR has been organizing lobbying efforts against health reform and publishing op-eds across the country with misinformation about the public option.

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Tom Synhorst, a former staffer to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bob Dole, joined fellow right-wing operatives Doug Goodyear and Tim Hyde to form DCI Group in 1996. The firm quickly flourished working for the tobacco industry, coordinating a sophisticated astroturf campaign to build public opposition to tobacco regulations. Ironically, before helping to manage this “patients’ rights” campaign, DCI founded “Smokers’ Rights” groups across the country for the tobacco lobby. Indeed, DCI has specialized in manufacturing “grassroots” support — using telemarketers, PR events, and letter writing campaigns — to achieve policy results for narrow corporate interests:

– The DCI Group was retained by the pharmaceutical industry to whip up public opposition against House legislation that would permit the reimportation of FDA-approved drugs from Canada and elsewhere. [Washington Monthly, December/2003]

– The DCI Group worked with Republicans to form various “grassroots” front-groups to amplify President Bush’s call to privatize Social Security. [Center for Media and Democracy, 3/18/05]

– Chris LaCivita, a former DCI Group staffer, took a lead role in organizing the Swift Boat Veterans campaign to smear John Kerry and his war record. [CommonDreams, 8/31/04]

– The DCI Group was behind spoof videos mocking Al Gore and global warming. The firm has been retained by ExxonMobil to lobby. [Wall Street Journal, 8/3/06; Exxon Secrets, accessed 7/28/09

While it is unclear who is funding this latest CPPR front group, DCI has in the past worked for health insurance companies. In 2002, the American Prospect reported that DCI had been hired by the Health Benefits Coalition, a trade association of for-profit HMOs trying to “thwart congressional action on the patients’ bill of rights."

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